Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1 – Scott Snyder, Writer; Francis Manapul, Howard Porter, Artists; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Excellent Ending
Ray: Scott Snyder’s epic ocean-based crossover concludes with Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1, an oversized one-shot, its structure very similar to last month’s The Witching Hour. I don’t think this crossover ever hit quite the highs of that one, but at its close it’s a highly entertaining and large-scale story told in a self-contained package. This final issue opens by taking an interesting tack – the heroes attempting to stop the villains not through violence, but through compassion. The last few issues revealed that the Sea Gods invading Earth were in fact not true villains, but victims of the mad Atlantean sorcerer Arion’s actions. That’s led Aquaman to believe that he can convince them to restore the world by giving them the Trident that is rightfully there. The rest of the team is much more suspicious, especially Mera. Complicating things, Black Manta has the Sea Gods under his thrall, and he’s pushing them towards more and more extreme actions in their conquest. And did I mention Flash is about to transform into a lobster-man?
The only way to restore the balance, apparently, is to sink Atlantis again. But there’s the little matter of the Death Kraken marching towards Atlantis and consuming everything in its path. This eldritch abomination from the depths of another world is very reminiscent of the larger creatures from Stephen King’s The Mist, making it a perfect last-act threat. I’m also a fan of how Snyder has portrayed the awkward alliance between the Sea Gods and Black Manta. While the Sea Gods are otherworldly beings with difficult to figure motivations, Black Manta is pure pettiness. Not only is he willing to sell out Earth, but he’s also willing to sell out his own new allies at the drop of a hat. That sets up a great finale where the stakes change completely, and Aquaman is forced to make a dramatic sacrifice that sets up his new status quo in Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Aquaman run. All in all, a highly entertaining mini-event that did justice to both the books it tied into. Needed more Jarro, though.
Corrina: Though many of the elements did not make any sense, in the end, Drowned Earth was highly entertaining because it pulled back from the epic to concentrate on the personal stakes, especially between Aquaman and Mera.
Some of the non-sensical elements still throw me. The entire Earth was covered by water but when the waters recede, people pick up as normal? Entire cities would be destroyed by this kind of flood. I’m okay with the people having hazy memories of their transformations but any property damage is simply hand-waved. Man, DC really needs an international version of Marvel’s Damage Control.
Luthor caused all this, correct, as a diversion to get what he wanted? Likely some of his actions were captured on video. I wonder what would happen if, say, a person, a city, a country, sued Lex Luthor for property damage caused in the floods? Luthor Corp. might well find its coffers depleted. DC also seems to need a version of She-Hulk or Matt Murdoch to help with this.
Also, I’m still not sure why, if the Sea Gods gave Manta the power, that they couldn’t take it away, though I understand releasing the Kraken (fun moment!), once done, couldn’t be easily undone.
But, the meat of this issue is Aquaman’s insistence that the original sin of Poseidon and Arion not be duplicated, and that the Sea Gods need a chance to help heal themselves. We’ve seen Arthur’s rage, his dignity, and his protectiveness, but we’ve rarely seen his compassion, and that makes his choice somewhat delightful, though Mera isn’t on board. Why should she be? She’s known nothing but war and she was trained as a warrior. Their reconciliation before his sacrifice is lovely, too.
All in all, this turned out much better than I’d expected from the opening chapters
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.